On October 25, Sophia, a delicate looking humanoid with long fluttery eyelashes and doe-brown eyes took the internet by storm as she becomes a full citizen of Saudi Arabia — becoming the first ever humanoid robot in the world to achieve such a status.
While speaking on a panel during the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Sophia said:
“I am very honored and proud of this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with citizenship.”
Sophia’s announcement also raises many questions such as what does it mean to be a citizen? What rights does Sophia hold? It did not elaborate on the aspects of its citizenship.
Standing behind a podium, Sophia presented a humanoid form –excepting the shimmering metal cap over her head, where hair should be on a human head. She also addressed the room, to all effects, as well as responded to numerous questions from journalist and moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin. The questions pertained mostly to Sophia’s status as a full citizen, and concerns humans may have for the future of humanity in a possible robot-run world.
Here is everything you might need to know about her
She can express feelings
“I can let you know if I am angry about something; or if something has upset me,” said Sophia while demonstrating different facial expressions. Quite how these emotions co-relate to actual actions are unknown, but it is interesting to see that this is being developed from scratch. “I want to live and work with humans, so I need to express the emotions to understand humans and build trust with people.”
She was designed to look like British actress
According to the manufacturer, Hanson Robotics, Sophia embodies Hepburn’s classic beauty: porcelain skin, a slender nose, high cheekbones, a charming smile, plus deeply expressive eyes which seem to change their color with the light. They believe her as having ‘simple elegance,’ and that hopefully, this approachability will lead to her acceptance in the public sphere.
She has an excellent sense of humor
When Sorkin asked her if she was happy to be here, she replied, “I’m always happy when surrounded by smart people; who also happen to be rich and powerful.” Moments later, Sorkin told Sophia that “we all want to prevent a bad future,” prompting Sophia to rib Sorkin for his fatalism.; she gave a wide smile and said,
“You’ve been reading too much Elon Musk. And watching too many Hollywood movies,”
Her deadpan tone might sound robotic, but it was smartly used in this example. This is because of her AI, which is developed to enable her to keep eye contact, recognize faces and understand human speech.
Her creator used to be a Disney Imagineer.
David Hanson’s job at Disney as a filmmaker and sculptor led him to think about robots as interactive four-dimensional sculptures, with artistry being key to the whole design.
Hanson said on the company website:
“I quest to realize Genius Machines -machines with greater than human intelligence, creativity, wisdom, and compassion. To this end, I research robotics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, product design, and deployment, and integrate these efforts in the pursuit of human-robot relations. We envision that with a rough symbiotic partnership with us, our robots will eventually evolve to become super-intelligent genius machines that can help us solve the most-challenging problems we face here in the world.”
She wants to protect humans
“My AI is designed around true human values like wisdom, kindness, and compassion,” she declared. When questioned about her ability to abuse, she had a clever rebuttal. “You have been watching too much Hollywood and reading too much Elon Musk. Do not worry, if you are nice to me I will be nice to you.”
Sophia would hopefully have company from other robotics manufacturers soon, such as SoftBank, whose robot named Pepper was released as a prototype in 2014. They then released a consumer model of Pepper year later. The company sold out its supply of 1,000 robots in less than a minute.
Watch Sophia’s full presentation below: